The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare this week tightened Japan's drug control laws to ban the production and sale of 17 substances that are similar in chemical structure to existing hallucinogenic drugs.
A commission investigating the health and safety of foodstuffs and medicine added the 17 herbs or incenses, known as "loophole drugs," to the restricted list, including five that are known to be on sale in Europe, but are not yet believed to be in circulation in Japan, TBS reported Friday.
The move marks the first time a substance has been added to the banned list before it is confirmed to be in circulation.
The ministry said the number of drugs and herbs on the controlled substances list has now reached 90. The ministry added that it is looking into the possibility of a blanket ban of a range of substances with a similar chemical structure early next year, in order to make the restrictions more comprehensive.
The word "herb" is used in Japan as a euphemism for a range of drugs that circumvent current substance control laws. The sale of the drugs, which police say are usually smoked, has been in the news recently following a spate of medical emergencies and accidents.© Japan Today